Do snakes have personalities? The answer to that question may depend on who you ask. Some experts say yes, while others do not believe so. I spoke with both types of people and got their opinions about whether or not they believe that snakes have personalities.
So, do snakes have personalities? Snakes have personalities indeed, and while research is not thorough enough to explain it, most experts along with almost all snake owners believe that each snake has a personality along with personality traits that are unique to this snake.
However, personality is a complicated thing, and we don’t even understand it fully in humans, let alone snakes. In this article, I’m going to do my best to explain what do we know about personality in snakes, so keep reading.
What even is personality?
Before we can determine whether or not snakes have personalities, we need to first understand what personality is.
Personality has been described as a set of characteristics that describe an individual’s unique behavioral style (Freedman, 2013). It is thought to be the result of both genetic and environmental factors.
Some experts believe that there are five major personality dimensions:
- Extraversion vs. introversion
- Conscientiousness vs. impulsiveness
- neuroticism vs. emotional stability
- Agreeableness vs. antagonism
- Openness to new experiences vs. close-mindedness
Others believe that there are more than five dimensions, or that the dimensions are not mutually exclusive. I have recently watched Vox’s explained documentary on personality while researching this post and I highly recommend watching it to learn more about personality in humans.
Personality in Humans
While we can’t tell what a person’s personality is without studying it, we do have some general indicators. We characterize personality in people along a spectrum of traits or characteristics that influence their behaviors, motives, thoughts, and reactions to various events. Within the discipline of psychology, there are several different theories on human personality, yet no single theory has emerged as the dominant one.
Personality in Animals
We do not know enough about the brain and how it functions to say that we fully understand personality or its function in humans.
However, this does not stop us from studying whether animals have personalities too. What makes animal personality different than human personality is that there are fewer dimensions involved when compared to humans.
The most common model of animal personality is the two-factor model, which describes personality in terms of dominance and submission (Blanchard et al., 2004). This model has been found to be applicable in a wide range of species, from mammals to birds (Munoz-Duran et al., 2016).
There are other models that have been proposed to describe animal personality, but they are not as widely accepted as the two-factor model.
Do Snakes Have Personalities?
Now that we know what personality is and how it has been studied in both humans and animals, let’s take a look at whether or not snakes have personalities.
The majority of snake owners believe that their snakes do have personalities, and there are a number of reasons why they think this.
First, snakes often seem to react differently to different people. For example, one person may be able to handle a snake more easily than another person. This could be because the snake has a personality that is more agreeable with the first person than the second.
Second, snakes often have different behaviors depending on their environment. For example, a snake may be more active when it is in its owners’ presence than when it is alone. This could be because the snake has a personality that is more extraverted when around people.
Third, some owners say that their snakes do not like to be held by certain people, and do enjoy being around others. This could be because the snake has a personality that is more antagonistic towards some people than others or it may have a strong preference for socializing with particular individuals.
Do Snakes Have Personalities?
There are several arguments against the idea that snakes do have personalities.
First, there is a lack of consistency in the data collected from snake owners who believe their snakes do have personalities. In other words, it may be an owner’s bias or personal perception influencing whether they think their pet has a personality rather than actual evidence for this claim.
Second, there is very little scientific evidence to support the claim that snakes do have personalities. This means that any observations or data collected from snake owners cannot be used to make a valid argument about whether or not snakes personality exists.
Third, it is difficult to test for personality in animals because we do not fully understand what personality is and how it functions. This means that any tests or measures used to assess personality in snakes would be invalid.
At this point, it is difficult to say definitively whether or not snakes do have personalities. However, there is enough evidence from snake owners and scientists alike to suggest that this may be the case.
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